Ligon Duncan on the Non-Negotiables of the Gospel

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  • Thursday, July 02, 2009

    Unlimited/Limited Atonement

    Unlimited/Limited Atonement

    1 Timothy 4:10 (English Standard Version)

    10For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

    Chrysostom (349-407) on Hebrews 9:28. "So
    Christ was once offered.": By whom offered? evidently by Himself. Here
    he says that He is not Priest only, but Victim also, and what is
    sacrificed. On this account are [the words] "was offered." "Was once
    offered" (he says) "to bear the sins of many." Why "of many," and not
    "of all"? Because not all believed, For He died indeed for all, that is
    His part: for that death was a counterbalance against the destruction
    of all men
    . But He did not bear the sins of all men, because they were
    not willing. NPNF1: Vol. XIV, Epistle to the Hebrews, Homly 17.

    This is not a contradiction in terms, it is a proposition that fits into God's redemptive plan - that is:

    1) Christ's death was of general benefit to all Mankind, in that the guarantee of His sacrifice was the source of our just God extending grace to Adam and not immediately and utterly destroying Man at the Fall or allowing Man, in his own total depravity and slavery to sin, destroy himself- thus Unlimited in application in that sense. "who is the Savior of all people"

    2) Christ's death was of specific benefit to the Elect, in whom He, by His grace, has given the gift of faith through the Holy Spirit, resulting in true spiritual and saving belief in Christ. "especially of those who believe"


    todd said...

    Thanks for the post; Great Explanation; From what I gather he is saying: The Work of Jesus was not a work of atonement for every individual, but it was the basis of mercy for every individual, so in that sense he has saved everyone from "immediate" judgment warranted at Adam's first sin. Though the condemnation is indeed immediate.

    I posted this article on my blog with a link in the opening; To ensure I can have a back-up copy for future reference.

    Michael said...

    The Catholic Church is the Pillar and the Foundation of Truth (1 Timothy 3:15)


    "The Church, instituted by the Lord and confirmed by the Apostles, is one for all men;
    but the frantic folly of the diverse impious acts sects has cut them off from her.

    It cannot be denied that this tearing asunder of the faith has arisen from the defect of poor intelligence, which twists what is read to conform to its opinion, instead of adjusting its opinion to the meaning of what is read.

    However, while individual parties fight among themselves, the
    Church stands revealed not only by her own doctrines, but by those also of her adversaries.

    And although they are all arranged against her, she confutes the most wicked error which they all share, by the very fact that she is alone and One.

    All the heretics, therefore, come against the Church; but while all the heretics can conquer
    each other, they can win nothing for themselves.

    For their victory is the triumph of the Church over all of them. One heresy struggles against that teaching of another, which the faith of the Church has already condemned in the other heresy, - for there is nothing which the heretics hold in common, 'and the result is that they affirm our faith while fighting among themselves.
    Saint Hilary of Poitiers... The Trinity, 7:4, 356 A.D.. Jurgens 865

    "Nothing under the sun is new, neither is any man able to say: Behold this is new; for it has already gone before in the ages that were before us." (Ecclesiastes 1:10)

    The Jews tried to destroy it and they in turn were almost totally destroyed in 70 AD.
    The Catholic Church is still here.

    The Romans tried to destroy it, but they in turn were destroyed and their entire empire collapsed in 471.
    The Catholic Church is still here.

    The Moslems tried to destroy it in the middle ages, and failed.
    The Catholic Church is still here.

    The Protestants tried to destroy it in the reformation and failed, and look what happened to them. The Church of Protestantism, which Luther founded, was from the very beginning cracked and splintered. Look at Protestantism today, over 36,400 splinters, with more cropping up every day.
    The Catholic Church is still here.

    Hitler tried to destroy it and failed. Where is he and his 1000 year Reich now?
    The Catholic Church is still here.

    Communism tried to destroy it and failed, and where is communism today?
    The Catholic Church is still here.

    Why do you think the Catholic Church has endured all these attacks for almost two millennia?

    It is because it was founded by Jesus Christ and is guarded from within and from without
    by Him and the Holy Spirit, that is why.

    Christ guaranteed the perpetuality of His ONLY Church.
    Isa 59:21, Matt 16:18, Matt 28:20, John 14:16-17, Eph 5:23, 1Tim 4:16

    So, if all of the above much more formidable foes tried and failed to destroy the Catholic Church, what makes you think you can succeed?

    Remember, if you fight against GOD's Church, you fight against GOD Himself...

    "If GOD is for us, who is against us?" (Romans 8:31)

    swordbearer said...

    Michael stated: "The Catholic Church is the Pillar and the Foundation of Truth (1 Timothy 3:15)"

    Response: Nice INSERTION, but we don't buy it here. Care to compare the Greek and see if "Catholic" is included?

    Michael stated (repeatedly): "The Catholic Church is still here."

    Response: So is the Church of the Latter Day Saints, the Muslim, the Buddhists, ... but that neither means they hold to pure doctrine or to the true gospel!

    Michael stated: "The Protestants tried to destroy it in the reformation and failed..."

    Response: (Unsubstantiated Claim) How did it fail?

    Michael stated: "The Church of Protestantism, which Luther founded ..."

    Response: Just because "protests" (against corruption and false doctrine) were raised (from which "Protentantism" gets it's name) does NOT mean the gospel Protestants uphold is not from God, is not biblical, and was not present and widely communicated before Luther. (i.e., Hus, Wycliffe, Augustine, Paul, Jesus, even God himself in the protoevangelion of Genesis 3:15)

    Michael stated: "...was from the very beginning cracked and splintered. Look at Protestantism today, over 36,400 splinters, with more cropping up every day."

    Response: No one denies differences and even divisions, but that's different than denying the full sufficiency and provision found in Christ.

    swordbearer said...

    Michael stated: Remember, if you fight against GOD's Church, you fight against GOD Himself... "

    Response: Before speaking so brazenly, you might consider the mention (name, characterization) given to those in Rev 3:9 who were described as belonging to the "synagogue of Satan" who also sought to claim for themselves the title of being the "true" church, though they failed to look to and trust in Jesus as the prophesied Messiah (who as God would accomplish salvation for man). Note, while my intention here is not to label the Roman Catholic church as a whole with this title, for there may certainly be true believers in her midst, at the same time, I believe you should consider the fact that God took special note of others who have gone before you who in claiming a similar title for themselves (while trying to deny the honor to those who were looking solely to Christ and the full sufficiency of his atonement) were denounced by God even as they sought to set themselves high among men. Surely, you would not want to be counted among such opposers, would you?

    Michael said...

    swordbearer said...
    "The Protestants tried to destroy it in the reformation and failed..."

    Response: (Unsubstantiated Claim) How did it fail

    Dear Swordbearer,
    More correctly, it is called "The Protestant Revolt" since it did not "Reform" anything.

    "Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it." (Psalms 127:1)

    Surely, the reformers had to have been aware of this verse. Why then, did they all ignore it?

    The very founder of the "Reformation", Martin Luther, was the "regrettable" one, as he surveyed the damage that his rebellion against authority had caused.

    His writings show that he lamented his deed when he penned the following remarks...

    "This one will not hear of Baptism, and that one denies the sacrament, another puts a world between this and the last day: some teach that Christ is not God, some say this, some say that: there are as many sects and creeds as there are heads.

    No yokel is so rude but when he has dreams and fancies, he thinks himself inspired by the Holy Ghost and must be a prophet.
    De Wette III, 61. quoted in O'Hare, THE FACTS ABOUT LUTHER, 208.

    "Noblemen, townsmen, peasants, all classes understand the Evangelium better than I or St. Paul; they are now wise and think themselves more learned than all the ministers."
    Walch XIV, 1360. quoted in O'Hare, Ibid, 209.

    "We concede -- as we must -- that so much of what they (the Catholic Church) say is true: that the papacy has God's word and the office of the apostles, and that we have received Holy Scriptures, Baptism, the Sacrament, and the pulpit from them. What would we know of these if it were not for them?
    Sermon on the gospel of St. John, chaps. 14 - 16 (1537), in vol. 24 of LUTHER'S WORKS,
    St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia, 1961, 304.

    All of this and much more was written by the founder of the Reformation, just a short time after, when he noted the chaos he had created.

    By this time, Munzer had run in this direction (in 1521, the same year that Luther broke away), Zwingli, had run in that direction, Calvin in yet another direction, all of them scattering the sheep and taking their flocks with them.

    Luther had let the cat out of the bag and he was helpless to put it back in. He had started something that he was powerless to stop.
    Regretful, he certainly was as:

    "Once you open the door to error, you cannot close it."

    How true! Luther had become the victim by not heeding the consequences of this simple proverb.

    "Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it." (Psalms 127:1)

    swordbearer said...


    Mark 7:8 “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”

    1. I see you DODGE many issues here by running to other ones rather than addressing what’s being refuted (just like you did on Jazzy’s blog). Responses to (1) my pointing out your unjustified insertion, (2) true church defined by gospel and not just longevity, (3) true gospel communicated prior to Luther, (4) justification through the sufficiency of Christ, (5) Christ’s renouncing those who claim to be the true church but deny the gift of Christ’s atonement and righteousness

    Because Man’s Tradition doesn’t hold the authority of God’s Word, it doesn’t serve those well who ultimate rely on it. It does one good to examine church traditions in light of God’s Word and be courageous enough change.

    2. As far as your statement “More correctly, it is called ‘The Protestant Revolt’ since it did not ‘Reform’ anything”, this is nothing more than propaganda or a position taken and frequently espoused by the Catholic church.

    Again, I say:
    Because Man’s Tradition doesn’t hold the authority of God’s Word, it doesn’t serve those well who ultimate rely on it. It does one good to examine church traditions in light of God’s Word and be courageous enough change.

    Your statement demonstrates your failure to understand church history both in regard to the issues of the medieval church leading up to the Reformation as well as the multifaceted issues involved with the Reformation itself.

    As one church historian put it, “The Reformation was above all else a revival of religion, which reformed institutions, doctrines, and life; and, as such it had more definite links with the reform movements of earlier days than with the fifteenth-century Renaissance. Some of the earlier efforts at reform had included: (a) the reform of monasteries & the rise of the preaching orders; (b) the reforming popes; (c) the conciliar movement, expounding a theory that church councils were superior to the papacy, and that reform can be achieved by these councils; (d) movements outside the Church or condemned by the Church, such as: the Waldenses, the Albigenses, the Lollards, the Bohemian Brethren, and Savonarola, …”

    As far as it’s aims, the fundamental purpose of the Reformation as conceived by both the German and Swiss reformers was the restoration of the Church to its former purity of faith and life; it was revival of religion, not innovation or revolution in religion. This revival involved, among other things, the removal of abuses in practice and in doctrine, and the recovery of the Gospel and of personal religious experience.

    As the late Dr. Al Freundt (church historian and seminary professor) put it: The removal of those abuses which had scandalized many of the best Christians in the Middle Ages; and the need for a cleansing was all too obvious to peole who were familiar with the Renaissance Popes of the fifteenth century. Clerical morality from the Papal See to the rural parish was certainly not the morality of the New Testament. There were reforms needed in the area of doctrine. The practice of indulgences was not new, but it had become increasingly mercenary, and it was based upon a doctrine of grace mediated through priest and sacramental system. The Reformation also aimed at the recovery of an evangelical doctrine and experience of grace.”

    swordbearer said...

    3. As far as the “rebellion” and the “splintering” you refer to, this is explained easily when one understands church history as the impurities and abuses of the church were many, and hence while many recognized that cleansing and reform need to come, this meant a a variety of things to different people, and so when the movement of reform came, it’s not unusual that we find different expressions and even different degrees of expression as well as different thoughts and practices in regard to the solution(s) and the forms it should take, and this even more when you consider a movement even among the peasants who had been for such a time controlled by those who were corrupt and abusive in power.j

    Because Man’s Tradition doesn’t hold the authority of God’s Word, it doesn’t serve those well who ultimate rely on it. It does one good to examine church traditions in light of God’s Word and be courageous enough change.

    4. Finally, as you seem so quick to imply that you possess wisdom as to how “GOD” was at work in building his house (though your position fails to recognize how error and abuses were even present much less corrected , taking into account the authority, light, and comparison of God’s Word), let me point out another verse that applies especially when it comes to division, for that seems to be a subject you are caught up on:

    Luke 12:51 ‘Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.”

    The truth is that division does not always demonstrate that one is departing from God, but at times, especially those when the very gospel itself is at stake, reveals the difference between those who hold and attest to the gospel of his Son and those who do not. I seriously believe you should give this due consideration and then review church history more in depth.

    Because Man’s Tradition doesn’t hold the authority of God’s Word, it doesn’t serve those well who ultimate rely on it. It does one good to examine church traditions in light of God’s Word and be courageous enough change.

    5. I’ll address your statements of Luther again as I have time, but suffice it to say that:
    a. While the differences among those involved in the reformation are explained above, certainly central to the movement was the perseveration and proclamation of the true gospel which was being corrupted by the Catholic church.
    b. The very facts you point out of Luther’s efforts of educating and encouraging the masses at reform to be controlled and not give way to those things associated with what is common with “revolts” actually refutes your own point, and demonstrates it was an effort at reform and not revolt!

    Because Man’s Tradition doesn’t hold the authority of God’s Word, it doesn’t serve those well who ultimate rely on it. It does one good to examine church traditions in light of God’s Word and be courageous enough change.

    Michael said...

    Dear Swordbearer,
    Tell The Truth Or Suffer The Consequences!

    swordbearer said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    swordbearer said...


    Wow...another example of how you not only refuse to look to the Scripture in regard to the issues under discussion, but fail to deal with the issues, refute the arguments, and then "bait and switch" to the warnings found in Scripture (while failing to deal with the issue of what "truth" is ... and the source by which we know it) and then show immaturity by adding your little flaming symbols. Let the readers decide not only between the methods used, but also on which side truth is found. You've not only bought into a lie but you're running around selling hype and heresy like the snake oil salesmen of old, but like them I imagine (from you statement "... I leave you with...") you'll be moving on soon as your hoax has been uncovered and you can't defend what you say.

    jazzycat said...

    On the Jazzycat post of June 15, 2009 comment thread a Michael said the following:

    Private Interpretation of Scriptures:
    While the Catholic Church truly believes that reading and understanding the Bible is a good and holy thing, she cautions strongly against trying to understand the true meaning of sacred scripture on your own.

    This response came as an explanation to why he could not discuss and debate Scripture on the point of justification by works. His assertion was that works were needed to add to the finished work of Jesus Christ in order for one to be justified [saved].

    He totally failed to follow Scripture's exhortation in 1 Peter 3:15 which says:
    but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

    Perhaps he can't understand the true meaning of this passage and needs the higher authority of Catholic Church leaders to tell him what to think. His comment suggests the Catholic Church is but a mere cult and not worthy of serious consideration in the Christian world.